20/09/2005 - 22:00

State plays hard ball

20/09/2005 - 22:00

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As footy fans ratchet the excitement up a notch ahead of the weekend’s AFL grand final the State Government has brought sport to the forefront of the political debate with a renewed focus on Perth’s sport facilities.

State plays hard ball

As footy fans ratchet the excitement up a notch ahead of the weekend’s AFL grand final the State Government has brought sport to the forefront of the political debate with a renewed focus on Perth’s sport facilities.

Last week’s surprise announcement that the Government would build, fund and own an indoor sports stadium follows an extensive, but ultimately failed, process involving the private sector.

The intention was for the multi-purpose indoor stadium to be built under the State Government’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy, announced in 2002.

Only one PPP has been realised since the announcement of that policy – the new $142 million CBD courts complex.

Mutiplex and Mirvac Fini originally submitted proposals for the new stadium, with Mirvac Fini subsequently withdrawing from the tender process in June this year.

Multiplex then said double the $50 million contribution originally offered by the State Government was needed to construct the stadium.

Less than two months later, Treasurer Eric Ripper announced that proposals put forward by the private sector had failed to meet all of the design and financial criteria, and that the Government would be building its own $160 million, 14,000 seat stadium on the Northbridge Link site on Wellington Street.

Arena Management, a partner in the Multiplex-led consortium, criticised the tender process as “unprofessional, misleading and costly”.

Arena’s chief executive officer, Michael Jacobsen, said the lack of explanation given for the decision suggested the process was little more than a “fact finding” expedition for the Government, allowing it to accumulate the financial and architectural intellectual property necessary to build the stadium itself.

“Consortium members spent many months preparing financial, technical and marketing information in support of our bid, with final recommendations submitted as late as last week,” Mr Jacobsen said.

“In our more than 40 years of managing venues and dealing with governments, Arena Management has not seen a tender process as misleading and unprofessional as this one.”

He said it reflected poorly on the Government if it could not make a PPP work due to a lack of understanding of private enterprise.

Multiplex also lost out on the Perry Lakes development.

In March the Town of Cambridge announced Multiplex as preferred tenderer for the construction of a new stadium and residential development, but later announced the town would be developing the facilities itself.

But last week the State Government announced it would take over the Perry Lakes redevelopment, fast tracking legislation to enable the resumption and subsequent development of land.

Other Perth sporting facilities to receive a facelift include Members Equity Stadium ($25 million), set to be home for the Western Force Super 14 rugby team.

A stadium task force was also established last month to consider whether Perth needs a new $400 million outdoor venue, or whether upgrading of Subiaco Oval or the WACA Ground would be sufficient.

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief John Langoulant is heading the taskforce, which will determine Perth’s outdoor stadium requirements for the next 20 years.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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